The number 13 is often considered unlucky, as in Friday the 13th, or then again, it could promote something tasty like in the extra doughnut in a baker’s dozen. The 13th letter is “M” and I use Ms already in training in the “M&M” mode and have for years. Following are a few rambling “M”s for your consideration.


Although marksmanship might be on the verge of becoming a lost art there are still old guys around and smart younger ones who understand that eventually marksmanship, and hits on a target, make a difference. I can’t anticipate a change to my problem if I can’t hit it. Putting all the bull aside about scaring’em, spray-and-pray, and all the other goofy pursuits like magic-voodoo-shooting-techniques, if you last long enough in a fight you’ll have to hit the target to stop the problem. Hopefully, before you get killed.


Manipulation is a big deal to me. I firmly believe a lot of folks get in trouble in fights because their manipulation skills leave more than something to be desired. I consistently press, remind, push and prod students to use the safeties, but not necessarily to make the weapon mechanically safe. Major offenders, by weapon systems, are 1911s, because the shooter’s thumb is not correctly on top of the safety while firing. There is the potential of the shooting-hand thumb to push the safety up and on in a fight, or in a no-fire mode during live-fire exercise.

AR rifle platforms are included because under duress shooters often forget to take the safety off. The scary part of all this is some knot-head thinks walking around with the safety off is “tactical” or that they are above the realm of using mechanical safeties because they are “experts or professionals,” whatever the hell that is.

Movement: Avoid the range Macarena. If movement is required, do it. How many deer would still be alive if they didn’t move on opening day?





This is a no-brainer. Movement is a target indicator for all fights, and we simply need to be aware of it. Movement draws attention and it’s one of a very few things actually instinctive because movement does draw the eye to potential threats. Logic dictates if you have good cover don’t leave it. Drill responses like moving to or along side a partner when providing cover fire, or moving every time you are reloading are concepts to be reviewed as to their true value.

Avoid range Macarena drills and responses like “lower muzzle, sweep right and left with eyes, recover, holster.” All of the stuff mentioned is good in a proper context but make sure the fight is over before the muzzle comes off the threat. Truly search and confirm potential threats, don’t just have the head whisk back and forth like a windshield wiper. And make damn sure the fight is over before you holster your handgun. No eye sweep may be required in your bedroom hallway, but holstering may be important if you just used the gun in a public parking area.


Distance is almost always your friend and you should train for it. Train to create distance and train to take advantage of the distance you have created. The more distance created, the more time you have to make a better decision and/or apply better marksmanship.


Minimizing yourself as a target on a day-to-day basis should be a constant and on-going process. Cops should wear armor, civilians should wear seat belts, and both should consider carrying a second gun. We should all train to use cover and concealment. We should also train to fight with guns other than our own. Civilians should clear their house now to learn about how to do it. Not because you want to clear the house — it’s most often a bad idea — but in case you have to. I don’t want to learn about tactics, house clearing and bad corners when someone is in my house.


We’re all going to die but it shouldn’t be for lack of shooting back. Ninety-nine percent of the population should learn to load their weapon in an empty-load mode. Meaning, if the gun is empty, load it and go on. The tactical reload thing for the most part is a moot point and generally is best applied when you have someone to cover for you while you do it.

Bluntly, if you need to load at all it should be after you shot the gun empty, because you should shoot until you win or until the gun goes empty. If it’s empty, with all the high capacity guns everyone has today, you’re going to have been in one hell of a big gunfight. If I was in that big of a fight, I’d reload the thing and great ready for more because apparently you found the lotto of target-rich environments! Also training punishment, like buying beer for wannabe, drunk firearms instructors, is stupid. Here’s why: why be punished for what might in reality end-up being a smart move in a fight?


Mindset: Just because you’re on the ground, doesn’t mean you’re out of the fight.





Mindset is a good “M” and things like the color code from the Cooper era, and personal awareness and applied personal tactics are all probably all part and parcel of the acquisition and application of a combative mindset. After doing this for a few years and the more I’ve thought the process through, the less likely I am to have to use it. Mental and physical panic, like trying to do stuff like draw and shoot fast, doesn’t wind up being all that productive down-range.


I would advocate you train up to be and practice to shoot up to a level of magnificence. A magnificent shot is rare, but it is cool to see one. My idea of magnificence is not just hits on an X-ring. Someone who carries himself well, knows his equipment and can apply it, can shoot stuff other than their own gun, practice regularly and move through life without a chip on their shoulder are magnificent. Mostly they understand shooting doesn’t always solve a problem. In fact, it almost always creates one.


Although it could be arguable, I think mediocre skills will win most fights. I think if people train and think really hard to be competent, and even if they truly are magnificent, the potential for some thing to go wrong is in place as part of fighting. If you train to be magnificent and actually can generate mediocre skills in a fight, I think there is a strong probability you’ll win. Also, bluntly, if you are just “armed” and you actually are at best a mediocre putz day-to-day with guns, I think chances are you’ll default to poor, and poor will not often win a fight.

Bad shots and bad tacticians are like drunk drivers — they often kill other people. If you carry guns step up to the plate and train-up. Your possession of a firearm does not mean you are competent, it simply means you have a gun. No offense intended.


Funny thing I am not much good at math as far as the symbols and forms go, but I do think the analytical application of logic to shapes and angles, as in architecture, might be helpful in movement through structures. I like using the process of elimination and the extension of imaginary planes to solve where a potential threat could be, and then hunting for them, even if only in my mind’s eye.


Although it might be considered as negative instruction, I have seen a lot of the these three “Ms” over the years. In the magic mode, most folks are looking for a way to evade the hard work part of shooting and go directly to the “I’m magic” mode. Marketing people have jobs creating sights, lasers, magic grips, magazines, ammunition, holsters and you name it to include magic cleaning stuff, so we don’t have to work on any of this basics stuff. We’ll just show up and “It’ll be like magic.”

The same goes for shooting techniques. “I’ll just invent something” no one in the 100+ year history of centerfire firearms and shooting ever thought of.” Then, “I’ll name it after myself and go forth to the ignorant masses and deliver to them an epiphany.” Maybe, but I doubt it. You all know the way to best achieve correct downrange projectile placement properly. No one I ever saw who was competent with a firearm got that way without hard work. But it could happen, I guess.

Mickey and Minnie, with no disrespect intended, are right along side magic and “vacation mentality.” They represent the thought process that “This is all cool shooting stuff and I’m gonna buy this widget add it to the gun, and this will be what the fight is, and I got it covered.”

Family vacations and gunfights have something in common. They rarely come out as planned. Indeed, all plans are good ones (magnificent?) until you make contact. And by now, you either get the point, or you don’t get the point and are still looking for some of that magic.


“M” may also stand for “moot,” as in “I guess this could all be just a moot point.” Only you can decide how it applies to you, and if it’s moot — or not.